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  • Posted December 20th, 2022
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    Cumbria coal mine – anger, disbelief and shock

    Cumbria coal mine – anger, disbelief and shock

    As a proud, adopted Cumbrian, we can’t accept a new coal mine in Cumbria – and neither should you.  This decision has been met with dismay across the board and it has thrown an area of Cumbria into the international limelight – for all the wrong reasons. 

    • it won’t provide long term investment in jobs. 
    • the UK steel industry have said they can’t use the coke that would be produced.
    • it will contribute to an increase of 0.4Mt CO2e in annual UK emissions. This is greater than the annual emissions projected from all open UK coal mines to 2050.

    Ignorance is bliss… 

    Since the decision was announced the chatter has all been about three main areas: 

    These three arguments have underpinned the passing of the planning, but are cynical political greenwashing at its worst. There is anger here in Cumbria. Anger that we are being used as cover for a failed ‘Northern Powerhouse’ ideology; anger that our Conservative MPs are pandering to populist politics to shore up the worst term in power in living history; most of all, anger that our beautiful, unique and fragile ecosystem is being blighted because our government has a failure of imagination and even less integrity. 

    Jobs

    The argument on the streets goes like this – a new coal mine here in Cumbria will bring jobs. We need the jobs, we need the investment, our youngsters need to have the opportunities. And it’s true. To an extent. This area of Cumbria has challenges, it has the doubtful title of ‘the most dangerous small town in Cumbria’ – and  the crime rate is in the top twenty of all towns in our County. (Source: https://crimerate.co.uk/cumbria/whitehaven). Like everywhere in Cumbria, it has stunning scenery and is close enough to the Lake District to get investment from tourism. But in the Copeland constituency, jobs and economic opportunities are few and far between. Shops are closed, the high street is neglected and people feel left behind. Politicians are exploiting this to ram the decision through. 

    Source: https://www.cumbriaobservatory.org.uk/economy-employment/map/

    ‘Green’ jobs and industry is still regarded as a myth by many.  Jobs in coal are practical, concrete and something that many cling to in their mythical, rose-tinted past. This is an area that feels forgotten, that feels like the world is moving on around it. 

    And yet we know that there is an industry and investment for the building here in Cumbria that does not need a coal mine. There is potential for ‘green jobs’, jobs which take advantage of our unique position as a tourist destination, a manufacturing base, as an already growing repository of renewable energy and with growing technological and industrial focus. We can provide jobs, investment and education – and much of it has been thought through and costed thanks to groups working with the sustainable charity Cumbria Action for Sustainability. Read the green jobs report here. Their conclusions and recommendations are well worth the read: 

    It is clear from this research that by reducing carbon emissions not only can we achieve net zero but we can also secure energy savings on the cost of energy bills – for households, transport, business operating costs, waste disposal – as well as generate thousands of good jobs. 

    Conclusion, Green Jobs Report, CAfS 2020

    A masterclass in ‘greenwashing’ 

    Meanwhile local politicians are tearing themselves apart trying to justify the decision. Including one MP from neighbouring Northumberland who was against an open cast mine in his constituency, but is all for this one. 

    They are arguing that this particular coal mine will be carbon neutral and therefore contribute to the targets set for reducing emissions. This sorcery will be achieved through ‘gold standard’ offsetting – an idea already disputed by the company who will, allegedly, be supporting this offsetting.  ‘Gold Standard’ issued a statement: 

    Justifying the development of a new coal mine with our carbon credits and using them to claim ‘carbon neutrality’ for the project is nonsense,” Gold Standard CEO Margaret Kim said in a statement. “We are in a climate emergency and new extraction of fossil fuels is unjustifiable. Our claims guidelines make it clear that to make an offset claim, organizations should prioritize the avoidance and reduction of emissions — something that is clearly impossible for a coal mine.

    Gold Standard CEO Margaret Kim

    The government has not responded to this. 

    In fact, the government has not responded to any of the criticism in any meaningful way. They seem content to settle for ‘divide and conquer’ politics – throwing local people into meaningless, yet emotional, arguments about tradition, war, history and future opportunities. 

    But we are not giving up quietly. Protests against the mine have taken place and more are planned, the role of government advisers and their proximity to the Cumbrian coal mine company are being examined with this petition here. The mine still needs, or it did at time of writing, planning from the Marine Maritime Organisation and legal action is being supported here. Friends of the Earth continue to be fervent defenders, and information on their activities can be found here. 

    If you can, please add your voice to these petitions, protests and pressure. This coal mine must not be built. 


    The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's


    3 Comments

    • 1Hilary Jones December 21st, 2022

      There is no justification for fossil fuels.

    • 2Cheryl Thorne December 21st, 2022

      Please put our planet first

    • 3Dave Wood January 4th, 2023

      This is not a coal mine! It has NOTHING to do with coal, greenwashing, jobs or people. It’s actually about missiles!
      Sounds mad doesn’t it, but the UK government cannot maintain our nuclear deterrent without a civilian nuclear power programme. That programme produces lots of difficult to dispose of waste. For the past twenty(at least!) years, successive UK governments have strived for a secure deep underground waste disposal store, preferably near Sellafield where most of the UK’s nuclear waste ends up.
      So NOTHING to do with Coal….All to do with a large hole in the ground to dump the nations munitions waste,
      WELCOME TO CUMBRIA!
      I wish you well with your campaign, and I’ll be striving for more truth from down here in the south!
      Good Luck!

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